This house feels so empty. Admittedly, I was slightly shocked when I walked into the bathroom and his things were no longer lined up on the counter, ever so neatly in perfect Chris fashion. His comb and small purple hair brush…gone. His aftershave…gone. His toothbrush…gone. His hair thickening serum (the one he thinks might thicken his hair enough to disguise his impeccably oval bald spot) … gone.
There are still small traces of him around, though. The mail is still stacked neatly on the kitchen counter, graduated by envelope size. My tennis shoes with the bright pink laces are placed with the heels against the wall, the left shoe on the left and the right on the right. His gallon jug of water still sits in the fridge beside the two slices of cheese cake he never finished. The brown towel he last used still hangs from the shower rod where he left it to dry and his hand writing lays scrawled on a grocery list adorned with printed yellow sunflowers. I pulled it from the trash when he wasn’t looking. The small blue flash light he left on my night stand sits, waiting for night to fall so I don’t. I’m to use it for added light if I need to get up in the middle of the night or in case of a power outage. He always thinks of things like that. And then there’s his pair of white and grey basketball shorts. I found them tucked under my pillow when I laid in my bed just to cry after leaving him at the airport at 6am. I’d told him how much I liked them and so he left them, because that’s exactly what he does. They still smell like his cologne. These are perfect reminders of the last 7 weeks, the ones that happened way too fast. But even these perfect reminders don’t fill this house with the love and the comfort that exists when he’s here.
I’ve known this day was coming since the day he arrived, but you can never completely prepare yourself for heartache. No matter how much you try, it always hits you with a force much stronger you expect. It knocks the wind from your chest and sits in your gut. Occasional deep breaths help but the uneasiness eventually creeps its way back in. Nothing feels comfortable. No routine feels routine. Rooms feel hollow and words empty. And no matter how hard you try to snap out of it, something always brings you back – like the missing purple hairbrush or the flawlessly stacked pile of mail on the kitchen counter.
If I haven’t learned anything else from this 1000-mile love, I’ve learned to soak up every ounce of joy one person can bring into your life. I’ve learned that the uneventful nights spent sitting on the couch together in unattractive pajamas while watching Jeopardy are the moments to treasure most. I’ve learned how unimportant it really is when he washes my black pants with white towels. I’ve learned to cherish every single moment we share together – side-by-side. Those are by far the sweetest. I’ve learned to memorize the way his hand feels in mine and the feel of his thumb when he runs it across my eyebrow while I fall asleep. I’ve learned that taking a single moment for granted always leads to regret. And I’ve learned that love, honest; robust; unadulterated; profound; uncompromising love, can sometimes hurt the most.
While I am broken today, tomorrow will bring new joys and new laughter, and the new memories, made during our short window of time, will bring a smile to my face again.
To my dear Chris,
Thank you. Thank you for our nights spent under the stars and for showing me The Little Dipper, the one I can never find. Thank you for challenging me to Jeopardy – and losing. Thank you for every time you unloaded the dishwasher, took The Kid to school, emptied the trash, filled my gas tank, and for every load of clothes you washed. Yes, even the load where you washed my black pants with white towels. Thank you for being the best sushi date, the best drinking buddy, and the best snuggle partner any girl could ask for. Thank you for the fireworks show, for braving my work Christmas party, and for eating my baked ziti and pretending it was as delicious as your mother’s. Thank you for tolerating my grumpy days and my sad days and for being my soft place to land on tough days. Thank you for 7 magical weeks filled with laughter, gentleness, compassion, acceptance, and love.
You were absolutely perfect.